In 2001, the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service contacted the Commission expressing concern about the way in which the Bail Act 1977 (Vic) operated.
The project was adopted as the Commission's first community law reform project.
The review considered the operation of section 4(2)(c) of the Bail Act where a person who has been charged with an offence is released on bail but then fails to appear at the court hearing. In such circumstances the person is only entitled to further bail if they can show that the failure to appear was due to ‘causes beyond their control.’ This provision limited the decision-maker's discretion and in practice impacted unfairly on disadvantaged groups, including Aboriginal people.
A Draft Recommendation Paper was published in 2002 seeking responses to two options for reform. The Commission received 11 submissions primarily supporting the Commissions first option for reform. The first option, that section 4(2)(c) be repealed, was recommended in the Commission’s final report provided to the Attorney on 7 June 2002.
In 2005, section 4(2)(c) of the Bail Act 1977 (Vic) was repealed pursuant to the Commission’s recommendations. The effect of this was to give courts a broader discretion to take all relevant factors into account when deciding whether to grant bail to a person.
In introducing the amendment the Attorney-General stated that the repeal would ensure that the bail system operates in a fairer way for Indigenous people, people from newly arrived communities and people with a physical or intellectual disability.